If Arizona Wildcats coach Adia Barnes enjoys the climb as much as she says she does, the weekly release of the AP poll must be extremely satisfying. Arizona debuted in the poll for the first time since 2004 just three weeks ago. For the third straight week, their ranking has gone up and they now sit at No. 18.
The No. 18 ranking is the highest for the Wildcats since the 2002-03 season. They have reached rankings not seen in recent years by getting out to their best start since the 1999-2000 season. If they win their next game, it will be the first time in program history that Arizona has opened up with a 10-0 record.
The Wildcats got some help from a previous opponent this week. Texas (5-4), who has struggled in the early part of the season, handed then-No. 17 Tennessee their first loss last week. It helped to rehabilitate the Longhorns’ image a little bit and knocked the Lady Vols (7-1) down in the rankings.
Meanwhile, Arizona went on the road to win its only game of the week. Despite being without several players due to injury, the Wildcats beat UTEP by a score of 54-43 on Saturday. It was Arizona’s lowest point total and closest game of the season.
The team returns to Tucson for its final two non-conference games of the season before heading to Tempe to kick off Pac-12 play on Dec. 29. The Wildcats face the Tennessee State Tigers on Thursday, Dec. 12 at 6:30 p.m. MST.
The Wildcats are preparing to enter league play in a conference that features a total of five ranked teams. In addition to Arizona, the media placed Stanford (No. 1), Oregon (No. 3), Oregon State (No. 4) and UCLA (No. 10) in the poll. Arizona State and Colorado are also receiving votes.